Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: Dragon Redeemer by Amy Bearce

World of Aluvia, Book Three
by Amy Bearce
Curiosity Quills Press
220 pages

Four years have passed since a fairy swarm released the voice of prophecy in Nell Brennan. In that painful moment, a skilled warrior became a reluctant leader and defender of Aluvia’s magic. Now a new enemy threatens their still-fragile lands, one Nell feels powerless to stop even with help from the voice within her.

A mysterious dark alchemist from the Ice-Locked Lands is rising to power on the strength of his sword arm and an ice-breathing dragon obedient to his command. He promises unlimited magic to his followers and death to those who defy him. If he takes over the ports, his corrupt elixirs will disrupt the delicate balance of peace between Aluvia's people and all magical creatures.

The voice of prophecy sends Nell and her friends to their enemy’s treacherous domain to find a sword of legend. Only the sword’s magic can prevent a return to a world of dying fairies and caged merfolk. But Nell’s up against the toughest foe she’s ever faced. In order to defeat him, she must master the unimaginable power of the sword―and the unwanted magic inside herself.


Nell is a warrior with a heart, who must struggle not only to find balance to save Aluvia, but also within herself.

Aluvia is healing, but the process has only begun and can easily be tipped back to the road of disaster. When 'The Dragon' appears, a man behind a mask with unheard of magical power, and states his goal of ruling of Aluvia and its magic, Nell and her friends are forced to step forward to try to stop him.

I did not read the rest of this series but had no trouble diving into book three and getting lost in the pages. The author skillfully brings Aluvia to life with details and vivid descriptions, which not only catch the eye but grab the other senses as well. The bread at the bakery, the smell of nature or even the sounds of the small villages bring color to this fantasy world.

The main character, Nell, is a young woman who has a violent past. Her key to survival has always lain with her amazing ability to handle a sword. Now, she's also discovered her talent as a healer and a prophet--thanks to a voice living inside of her. But the mixture of these three things is something she still hasn't really accepted. There's a lot to enjoy in Nell. She's strong, brave and very self-assured, while still unsure of who she really is and what her true path should be. Her struggles and concerns make her sympathetic and easy to cheer for.

But Nell isn't alone. The group of friends around her make it a real adventure. Each has their own talents and weaknesses, but even when they don't agree, they have each other's backs. It's a wonderful group, and if I had to go on adventure, I definitely want every single one of them with me.

There is romance, but it's a mature, already settled one. Corbin stands at her side not only as a love interest but as a true friend. Just as Nell is trying to find the balance of her three talents and what it means for her, she's trying to puzzle it all in with her relationship to Corbin. While she sees her warrior strength as her main asset, Corbin tends to push her toward a more quiet, healer side. So the two must find balance as well.

There's never a boring moment in these pages, and the heroes find themselves in one dangerous predicament after the other. There's a lovely dark mystery surrounding their opponent, The Dragon, although its not too hard to guess what his 'secret' is. There are twists and turns, although not all are hard to figure out. Some of the scenes, thoughts and reactions stumble a little but the book still grabs had holds until the very end. Especially fans of fantasy, magic, dragons and strong heroines are sure to enjoy this one.

And here she is. . .

Amy Bearce writes fantasy stories for tweens and teens. Her debut, FAIRY KEEPER, is an upper-middle grade fantasy and is the first book in the World of Aluvia series. MER-CHARMER (World of Aluvia, Book Two) released May 9, 2016. Book Three, Dragon Redeemer, released May 23, 2017. She is a former reading teacher who now has her Masters in Library Science. As an Army kid, she moved eight times before she was eighteen, so she feels especially fortunate to be married to her high school sweetheart. Together they’re raising two daughters and are currently living in Germany, though they'll be heading home to Texas this summer.

Cover Reveal: The Shells of Mersing by Sharon Marie Himsl

The Shells of Mersing
by Sharon Marie Himsl
Evernight Teen

JULY 2017!!!

When notorious Uncle Azman disobeys orders, and sends Callie and Lucas to meet their mother's long lost family in Malaysia, fourteen-year-old Callie believes their troubles are over. After all they've endured, what more could go wrong?
Their American dad is dead, Mom is missing, and their foster dad in Seattle was murdered, with Callie falsely accused. If that wasn't enough, Callie and eight-year-old Lucas stowed aboard a sailboat to escape, only to be targeted by their uncle’s boss in Hawaii upon arrival for immediate sale in Thailand’s human trafficking market.
Disguised in case Azman’s boss sends someone after them, Callie believes it’s simply a matter of time. They need to find safety with family in Mersing and begin the search for Mom, but a shell box, a ruby, and a boy from Chicago named Sam are about to change everything.  
And here she is. . .

Sharon loves adventure. Whether traveling through Malaysia on a jungle train, sailing in the San Juan Islands, or flying in an experimental airplane she helped her husband build, her life has been on a road less traveled. She has experienced hurricanes tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, and more. She has seen sunsets that take your breath away.

Her first publishing credit was as a travel writer in Malaysia, traveling by rail from Kluang to Kota Bharu on the now defunct "jungle train." Some of the Malaysian and Thai settings and characters she later wrote about in her novel, The Shells of Mersing, came from her experience living in Malaysia and the diary she kept.

She later edited, researched, and wrote young adult nonfiction for two educational publishers, Greenhaven Press and Lucent Books. Her interest in history stems from a degree in American Studies. Her day job at Washington State University also included editing science papers, articles, and books.

As a storyteller, Sharon knows that facts and life experiences are the foundation of good storytelling. If she were to credit one life experience behind wanting to be a writer, it would be the term paper she wrote in the ninth grade on the bubonic plague. "I don't know why, but I have always remembered the pride I felt writing that paper," Sharon said. And if she were to credit a character in a book who inspired her, it would be “Jo March” in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Jo wanted to be a writer.

Today Sharon is working on a second novel at home in Central Washington, where she lives with her husband on the edge of a desert runway . . . but that's another story!

[“Special thanks” to Jay Aheer, Evernight’s talented digital artist]

SOCIAL MEDIA and places to find Sharon!


You can all find Sharon at. . .

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Review: Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas

Worldquake Sequence, Book 1
by Scarlett Thomas
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Middle Grade Fantasy
ages 8+
384 pages

MAY 30th, 2017!!!

The Neverending Story meets Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus trilogy in this first magical adventure in a new series from acclaimed novelist Scarlett Thomas.

Effie Truelove believes in magic, as does her grandfather Griffin (although he refuses to do any magic, let alone teach Effie how to use it). After a mysterious incident leaves Griffin close to death, Effie is given an unusual silver ring and told she must look after her grandfather’s library of rare and powerful books. But then the books fall into the hands of shady scholar Leonard Levar, and Effie is propelled into the most dangerous adventure of her life.

Now, Effie and her friends—nerdy Maximilian, rugby-mad Wolf, helpful Lexy, and eccentric Raven—must discover their true powers if they are to get the books back. And Effie alone will have to travel to the Otherworld, where she will uncover the true meaning of the strange old book called Dragon’s Green

Acclaimed novelist Scarlett Thomas invites you into the wondrous realm of the Worldquake Sequence, where magic most decidedly exists, a growing evil lurks, and a group of children is destined to save the world.


With the whimsical magic of Harry Potter and an other-feel of The Neverending Story, this is the beginning of an amazing, unforgettable journey.

The world has changed since the great Worldquake, one that has split the real world from the magical one. Not that most people in the real world will admit that a magical one even exists and many simply don't know it. Effie's grandfather seems to be magical, but she can't be sure since her father has forbidden him from ever speaking about or teaching her magic. When Effie's grandfather dies and leaves her several boons as well as an impressive library, her magical journey begins. Her first quest is to save her newly inherited and mysteriously magical library from evil hands.

This was one of the best middle grade fantasy novels I've read in a while. The world is so rich and alluring that it's impossible not dream that it might really be true. Packed full of wondrous, childlike fantasy, everything from princesses to dragons to hot buns and portals makes an appearance. The feeling of awe seeps in around every bend. Still, there's enough touch of the familiar to keep it all in place. The starting world is much like our own, only that the internet has disappeared, leaving people to run around with pagers.

Adventure is key as Effie heads out to discover not only a magical world she knows nothing about, but also the secret about her grandfather. The steady paced action holds many unexpected twists and is sprinkled with excitingly dangerous situations which take more than luck and muscle to work through. Thanks to Effie's fairly quick wit, a group of new found friends, and unexpected extended family along the way, the complex world unfolds bit by bit. Told in third person, the narration offers quirky little tidbits here and there, and sprinkles in the right amount of humor when needed.

A careful balance is held between the adventure and the unfolding information concerning the complex world. This curbs the action a bit, allowing the characters to develop and the rules of the magical world to start to lay a solid foundation.  The layers are deep, and many questions still need to be answered. But this is the great beginning to what promises to be an unforgettable magical journey in the rest of the series.

And here she is. . .

Scarlett Thomas was born in London. She is the author of nine books for adults, including The Seed Collectors, PopCo, The End of Mr. Y, which was longlisted for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007, and Our Tragic Universe. Dragon's Green is her first novel for young readers. She teaches creative writing at the University of Kent.

You can find more about her at

Happy Book Bday, About Last Summer by Patricia B. Tighe with Giveaway!

About Last Summer

by Patricia B. Tighe
Swoon Romance
 YA Romance
342 pages

Pretend to be from Spain? Act like she can barely speak English? Sure, why not? It wouldn’t be the first time Gabby Vega had agreed to a challenge from her best friend, Kenzie. Besides, it’s only for a week of vacation with Kenzie’s cousins. Gabby will prove to Kenzie she can keep up the fake identity for the whole trip—that she’s not a quitter.
There’s just one major surprise. Noah Jernigan is also staying with Kenzie’s cousins. Noah, the boy she fell in love with at drama camp last summer and the boy she had to dump when it was over. The boy who knows who she really is.
Noah can’t believe it when Gabby appears at the Bryson’s vacation home in the New Mexico mountains. He hasn’t seen her in a year. It practically took that long just to get over her. And now she’s Gabriela from Spain? All he wants is to get as far away as he can. Or maybe the exact opposite. Stick as close to her as possible and find out what the heck happened last summer. And definitely get some payback.
Now Gabby has to keep Noah at arm’s length as she pretends to be Gabriela. She doesn’t want to answer his questions or rehash last summer. Because one thing is clear—the more time she spends with Noah, the more she’s in danger of falling for him all over again.

Buy on Amazon/Add on Goodreads

And here she is. . .

The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.

Swoon Romance on Twitter: @SwoonRomance
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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: Grandpa Hugs by Laura Neutzling

by Laura Neutzling
Illustrated by Cee Biscoe
Published by Thomas Nelson
Board/Picture Book
ages 3+
20 pages

Grandmas are for kisses, and grandpas are for great big hugs! Grandpas are fun! They go on adventures, tell silly jokes, say funny things, and love to eat treats. This adorable board book celebrates how wonderful spending time with Grandpa can be!
Little ones and grandpas alike will love Grandpa Hugs, the charming, rhyming storybook about how special a grandpa can be to a child. This companion to the acclaimed Grandma Kisses celebrates grandfathers and all the love and fun they bring to the special grandkids in their lives.
Whether it is a gift from a grandfather to his grandchild, a grandchild to her grandpa, or as a sweet, creative birth announcement for a first-time grandpa, Grandpa Hugs is bound to warm the hearts of everyone who reads it.


This is a gentle journey, which celebrates grandpas and all the wonderful ways they nurture and influence a grandchild's life.

Grandpas do so many things: play, eat ice cream, offer support and even pray. Through rhyme, many of these touching moments are brought to light and reflected upon.

Sturdy and ready for small hands, this board book will hold up to many hours of gazing and reading. Four line rhymes accompany every full page spread with a cheerful and bright description of the different things a child can experience with their grandpa. Some flow smoother than others. Every now and then, a small phrase follows in whimsical, colorful text which repeats the event in a type of sing-songy play.

The illustrations are bright yet gentle, bringing across the desired loving emotions. The watercolors add an airiness which is great for the youngest listeners, while still holding enough details to draw slightly older kids in time and again. Various animals are used to depict the grandparent-grandchild relationship, and this is cleverly enough done that the grandchildren could be of either gender (which makes it easy for the youngest to relate to and imagine themselves in the situations). The words and illustrations harmonize, allowing the pictures to bring the scenes to life. This is a perfect read for those children who share a special relationship with the grandfathers.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Sneak Peek: Rising by Sonya Weiss with Giveaway

by Sonya Weiss
YA Science Fiction Supernatural Romance
May 9th, 2017
When sparks fly between a human and a Supernatural, the entire planet could be at stake.
It’s been ten years since the Great Extinction, when Supernaturals threatened to destroy humanity. Now, in the sleepy town of Wayside, Nevada, seventeen-year-old Cassie Grant’s life couldn’t be more ordinary. Determined to get into an Ivy League college, her focus is squarely on her studies. But suddenly everything changes when she witnesses Jason Taylor, a cute and quiet loner, mysteriously save a young boy from falling to his death.
Although the Supernaturals ultimately retreated to their planet, three families were left behind—including Jason’s. So far, they’ve been successfully hiding in plain sight. But Jason knows that if Cassie exposes him, all their lives will be in peril—especially since Cassie’s father is the head of the Alien Eradication and Defense Department. At first, befriending Cassie is Jason’s survival tactic. But as they spend more time together, they begin to fall in love. With the authorities closing in and a hidden threat that could tear the very Earth apart, can Cassie and Jason keep each other safe—or will their star-crossed romance start another war?...

Sonya Weiss is a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and author, including the Stealing the Heart series with Entangled Publishing. She's addicted to great books, good movies, and Italian chocolates. She's passionate about causes that support abused animals and children. Her parents always supported her bringing stray animals home, although the Great Dane rescue was a surprise.


I wiped off the mess I’d made of my makeup for the second time, and stared at the pallor of my skin in the mirror. The scar high on my cheekbone wasn’t as bad as the ones on my back, but it was a visible reminder of the attack that gave me nightmares. Each time I’d jerk myself out of sleep, I’d fallen right back into the disturbing images again. No high IQ needed to guess why. At dinner Dad had talked in detail about the destructive nature of aliens. As if I needed to be told.
His stories and warnings alone weren’t the reason I didn’t like aliens. I knew firsthand that they killed, that they left humans scarred. I didn’t blame my father for my injuries, but my mother did. I pushed away the memory of what happened during that awful camping trip in New Mexico. That night had forever changed all of us and made me look at aliens differently.
Aliens were mysterious, powerful beings who were hunted by the government but more often than not, we humans were the prey. While there were a lot of pro-alien groups around that spouted on websites and to anyone who’d listen that we had nothing to fear from these “visiting creatures,” the scars on my body were living proof that was a lie.
A strange premonition swept over me and I shivered, then tried again to reapply my makeup fast so I wouldn’t be late for school. One more year, and then I was through.
I couldn’t wait to get out of Wayside, Nevada, far away from my father, and his job as lead agent at the Alien Eradication and Defense Department. I didn’t want to live with the reminder of aliens at every conversation. I needed a clean slate, a place where I could build good memories. I wished we could go back to our lives before the Great Extinction.
That war between the humans and aliens sucked the laughter out of our family like a tornado had spun through. Aliens had killed my uncle during one of the battles. My father hadn’t been the same since his brother’s death but he’d tried hard to keep himself together. But then after me nearly dying during that camping trip because of an alien attack, my father had unraveled in ways that baffled and sometimes even scared me.
I finished applying my makeup, checked my arms and back in the mirror to make sure my scars were hidden, and gave my face one final glance. Good enough. Grabbing my backpack, I made my way down the stairs to the living room where Mom lay curled on the sofa beneath a blanket. She had the same shoulder-length black hair and brown eyes I did, but where she was cover-model confident, not even photoshopping could erase my self-consciousness. I was a little on the nerdy side so I’d never been that confident, but after I was scarred, it had only gotten worse. I didn’t wear sleeveless shirts anymore and I wouldn’t dream of ever wearing a bikini again.
With a frustrated sigh, Mom sat up and muted the television, silencing the anchor mid-report on the frequent earthquakes striking our area. I stood behind the sofa and lip-read the closed captioning for a few seconds.
“Anything new, or are they rehashing yesterday’s news?”
“Not much new other than the United States Geological Survey is monitoring the area. Nevada is the twenty-first state hit with a wave of them.”
“That’s a lot of earthquakes.”
“There’s nothing to worry about, Cassie. If there were, the USGS would inform the right people who would then inform the public.”
I didn’t believe that. Because of Dad’s job, I had insight into how the government hid things. The rash of unexplained earthquakes made me edgy. “Where’s Dad?”
To my surprise her lips tightened, and I wondered if there was trouble again in Alienville. “He slept at the office last night.”
“Chasing little green men wore him out?” I pushed my hands through my out of control hair to corral it into a ponytail.
She tried to hide it, but a ghost of a smile flitted across her lips, and for a second we were unified in the knowledge Dad was acting weirder than usual. “You know your father.”
My stomach dropped. They’d been fighting more lately and the fights were getting uglier. “Did he sleep at the office because of his work or…”
“You should eat. I’ll make you something.” She got up and went into the kitchen. Mom was a great cook, but she never took the time anymore because she always had to leave the house before I did. I didn’t know what she was still doing home.
After taking the milk out of the refrigerator, she poured a glass, and then reached for the box of pancake mix. When she pulled the eggs out and set them on the counter, I said, “Mom? What’s going on?” Different what-ifs flitted through my mind while I waited for her to answer. Dad was having an affair. Mom was sick. Or Dad’s grouchy, could-never-be pleased mother was coming to visit. That last one made me feel sick. “Is Grandma coming for a visit?”
She glanced over her shoulder, shook her head, and laughed as we shared a look of mutual thank-God relief. “Speaking of aliens,” she muttered.
I laughed again. “Seriously, Mom. What is it?” I covered her hand with mine to get her to stop trying to make breakfast.
She hesitated, as if trying to decide how to answer. “Your dad thinks there’s a connection between aliens and these earthquakes.”
I rolled my eyes. Their power wasn’t something to be underestimated, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think they could control the Earth. “He thinks there’s a connection between global warming and aliens, power
outages and aliens, rising taxes and aliens. When doesn’t he think things are related to aliens?”
She shook her head as if trying to shake off the sudden heaviness blanketing both of us. “You don’t want breakfast?”
I moved to the pantry and scored the last chocolate chip granola bar from the box. “I don’t have time. The class hike is today. I have to rush, or I’ll be late.”
“You’re wearing that?”
I glanced down at my jeans with the myriad of artful cuts. “These are retro. Everyone’s wearing them.”
“I meant the T-shirt.”
I put a hand over the image of ET. I’d unearthed the shirt at the secondhand store. “It’s a joke.”
“Make sure you change before your father sees it. No use throwing gas on the fire.”
Dad was exactly the reason I’d bought the shirt, and I didn’t care if he saw it. Yes, I was afraid of aliens, but I was tired of my fear holding me hostage and I was trying to find my way back to the me I’d once been. There were so many things I didn’t do anymore since that camping trip because I was too afraid.
“Cassie?” Mom said.
“Fine, I’ll change before he sees it.”
“Are you riding in with Mark?” She sounded hopeful, not yet knowing my status as the alien hunter’s daughter wiped out my dating life once again.
  “Um…no. Gotta run.”

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Review: Tick Tock Man by R.M. Clark

by R.M Clark
Month9Books LLC
Upper Middle Grade
237 pages

When the clocks in town stop, thirteen-year-old CJ discovers an unusual "clock world" where most of the citizens are clock parts, tasked with keeping the big clocks running. But soon the seemingly peaceful world is divided between warring factions with CJ instructed to find the only person who can help: the elusive Tick Tock Man. 
With the aid of Fuzee, a partly-human girl, he battles gear-headed extremists and razor-sharp pendulums in order to restore order before this world of chimes, springs, and clock people dissolves into a massive time warp, taking CJ's quiet New England town with it.


It's Thanksgiving for CJ and his clock-loving family, but when he's the only one who notices that the clocks are all stuck on two, the adventure begins.

The author has created a fantastic world where clocks are so much more than they seem. It's an intriguing world and surprisingly easy to envision and learn about in the process. Although the beginning of the tale starts at a slower pace and allows the reader to sink in first, these first details fall into place around a steady  adventure the rest of the way through. The world is vivid and grows without slowing down the plot. There's so much for CJ to discover and all the things which seem unfamiliar at first, grow until they are hard to let go.

CJ is a thirteen-year-old boy who has some things to learn, but this 'growing up' message slides nicely into the adventure. It's no problem to feel for him, especially when faced up with his not understanding relatives. Fuzee, a part human girl, helps CJ mold into the world. But it's actually her who brings the tale to life. She's strong and adds so much zest to the story, making her a real treat. This mixture makes a great book girls and boys are sure to fall in love with. And this is a tale to enjoy. Before one knows it, the story captures and doesn't let go until the very last page.

And here he is. . . 

R. M. Clark is a children's book writer who lives in a small New England town with his wife, two sons, one dog and one cat. He is currently at work on his latest middle grade project. Clark is represented by Mel Stinnett of the Starlight Literary Agency.